It all started here at the 'Hot Stimulating' cafe in Darjeeling where we learnt to make Momos while drinking bowls of Steaming Darjeeling. It continued in Japan where those folding skills saw us transfer our skills to Gyoza - it was the crispy fried base that sealed the deal for us - and to this day we serve these tasty snacks alongside our fine teas at the Tea House. It is really important to us to serve food that compliments the teas and so, following this weeks Instagram live - head over to IG LIVE to watch - we are sharing our tea & dumpling pairing recommendations along with a recipe for our Kimchi dumplings! We hope you enjoy!
Combination 1 : Mushroom Gyoza & Rainbow Darjeeling
There are four flushes of tea in Darjeeling. The tea we are pairing with our Mushroom Gyoza [available at the Tea Houses when we reopen or for Click & Collect] is a later second flush. But before we introduce the tea fully lets explore the seasons in Darjeeling a little more.
Some side notes on Darjeeling with a focus on the current situation :
The first season is from late February to mid April and is referred to as the First Flush. After cold and dormant months the plants awaken and start to grow again producing teas that have a delicate flavour and a fragrant floral aroma. Of course there is more complexity to this season - in my regular conversations with KC we discuss the seasons of Darjeeling. As he explained to me this week 'the Assam and Assam hybrids flush first - these hybrids produce teas that are often described as having a slightly bitter aftertaste. KC continues 'it should also be remembered that the early flush teas are in very small quantities - this makes them difficult to process with a small window for error - the tea maker must be very alert. Later in the season come the China hybrids - sweeter with floral notes - the notes that people most often associate with first flush Darjeeling" Our discussion turned to the weather at the moment [and this blog is being written in early March 2021] 'Darjeeling is dry this year. The first flush prospect is linked to the soil moisture and there is low moisture this year - tea leaves are coming slower. We are expecting some rainfall, the forecast shows it will come this week or maybe the week after. For me, the festival of Holi has a great significance. After Holi the temperature rises - there is more vitality as it warms up - so with Holi this year on the 29th March we will wait to see what happens'
As a quick side note [as we will explore this in more depth later in the year] the Second season is from May to June - and named the Second Flush. The cup is more vivid in colour and appearance than the First Flush with the more pronounced 'muscatel' tone. The third season is from July to September and referred to as the monsoon or rain flush. The leaves harvested in this season hold more water and the cup has more colour, is stronger in flavour and often used in breakfast blends. Finally the fourth season is from October to November - the Autumn Flush - the harvest being district from others in that it has a mix of green and darker leaves. More on all of this as the season progresses!!
A delicate and exceptionally aromatic and floral loose leaf tea from the tender two leaves and a bud. Harvested in the morning from this highly reputed organic and biodynamic estate this beautifully delicate tea has aromatic tones that perfectly compliment the mushroom gyoza.
Origin : Ambootia Garden, Kumaltar, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India.
Size : Total area- 966.58 Ha, Area under Tea- 354.08 Ha
Harvest Time : June
Cultivar : TG887
Plucking standard : Two leaves and one bud
Processing : Withered, rolled, oxidised and fired.
Combination 2 : Pork Gyoza & Houjicha
This is a wonderful combination - the roasty notes of Houjicha with succulent pork gyoza which excite the palate with tingles of ginger and spring onion. Houjicha is a roasted Japanese green tea invented in the 1920s. It is commonly made using bancha tea, which is roasted at about 200°C and then cooled quickly. This changes the leaf colour from green to a reddish brown and gives it an incredible roasted fragrance. As mentioned previously Basic Houjicha is made from Bancha [mature leaves picked in between the 4 main harvests] - the higher grade is made from Sencha. As Houjicha is roasted - and as caffeine can't withstand temperatures over 178 C this tea is known to be lower in caffeine. We hold two Houjicha in our collection - both high grade. Their appearance is different - the first from Uji is more leafy and from the Yabukita cultivar - the second is from Yame - an organic tea which is a mixture of leaf and stalk - from the Yabukita and Kanaya Midori cultivars.
Tea Name : Houjicha [blended]
Origin : Ujitawara and Wazuka
Harvest Time : Middle to end of May
Cultivar : 'Yabukita'
Plucking standard : Machine trimmed, Shaded 3 to 7 days before harvesting.
Processing : Houjicha roasting process : this tea has the same first three processing steps as Sencha.
Steaming : 30-60 seconds
[The exact timing will depend on the condition of new growth]
Kneading : 1.5 hours or more.
Shaping : 1 hour.
Drying : 1 hour. [But to make Houjicha, the tea goes through one special additional step which is pan roasting]
Experience : A toasted nutty, warming tone and powerful aroma
Origin : Toshiro Irie's Tea Farm,Yame, Fukuoka, Kyushu Island
Size : 3 hectares [over several land plots]
Harvest Time : Second Harvest
Cultivar : Yabukita, Kanaya Midori
Plucking standard : Firmly grown leaves
Experience : Roasted, nutty and savoury
Why not plan a visit to see us later in the year and try both of these teas for yourself!. We hope to announce our opening times for mid May onwards shortly.
Combination 3 : Kimchi Dumplings & Soo Soo Choi's South Korean Black Tea
We chose this tea to accompany our Kimchi Gyoza [for which you can see the recipe below] - made by Soo too choi who runs a tea farm called Dachae in Boseong. This farm is located at an altitude of 230 metres and is 9 hectares in total, with 2.9 hectares dedicated to tea fields. The team here focus on the values of colour, diversity, harmony, and the beauty of Mother Nature - a wonderful sentiment to have at the heart of tea growing and production that translates in the cup. The vibrant, smooth and fruity black tones of this tea perfectly combine with the fermented tones in the gyoza - pairing perfection!
Tea Maker : Soo Soo Choi, Dachae Tea
Origin / Garden name and location : Noding-myeon, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-Do, South Korea
Size of garden : Total size 9 hectares with 2.9 hectares dedicated to tea fields
Harvest Time : Early to mid May
Cultivar : Yabukita seeds & native species mixed by natural crossing, wild species
Grade : In the production level of "Ujeon" and "Sejak", the tea is sorted the according to the exact specification of the grade. This black tea is made from the larger or 'big' leaves that drop out during this process.
Plucking standard : Hand picked
Experience : A vibrant, smooth and fruity black tea
We hope you have enjoyed this short exploration of tea & dumplings. Please check out our IGTV for the live version of this blog. Why not try making these gyoza yourselves? Of if you would rather order from us our next Click & Collect dates are next weekend! Friday in Bath & Saturday in Dorset! We hope to see you soon and until then we hope you can find a little time for tea & dumplings!